Whatnot, Writing 101: Class of 2014
Comments 10

I am ashamed that adults are still fighting over young adult fiction

My YA collection.

Today’s Writing 101 challenge tells me to go somewhere out of my house.

Go to a local café, park, or public place and report on what you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

Thoughtful writers create meaning by choosing precise words to create vivid pictures in the reader’s mind. As you strive to create strong imagery, show your readers what’s going on; avoid telling them.

Today’s twist: write an adverb-free post. If you’d rather not write a new post, revisit and edit a previous one: excise your adverbs and replace them with strong, precise verbs.

I am not inclined to go outside (it’s 2 AM) and I am not a foe of adverbs. I love adverbs! And we cannot propose the death of adverbs because how are we going to describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs?

Okay, if the challenge is to eliminate adverbs of manner (there are adverbs of place, time, frequency, etc.), I’ll give the twist a go. But I am still not going anywhere. I’ll just go to a world where I feel alienated: the world of YA fiction.

While I was eating dinner–this is an adverbial phrase, okay, I have to stop this–while I was eating dinner, I read a status from a bookish acquaintance. It’s something about effing snobbery, and this reminded me of this Slate article that’s telling us that adults should be embarrassed to read YA novels, and this Washington Post article that’s telling us otherwise. Uh oh, not again. Is there no stop to this category bashing? Okay, I admit I am not big on YA. I’ve scanned my book shelves for any YA books. I found five (I don’t wish to turn over my books at this hour), three of them given to me as gifts, one of them found in a free book pile, and one of them bought because it was a book club pick that I couldn’t borrow from anyone.

So yes, I do not buy YA novels if I can help it, and this doesn’t have to mean anything aside from the fact that I prefer buying other kinds of novels. I may look like a young adult (ha!) but I am way older than YA fiction’s target audience. This doesn’t have to mean anything as well. If you are forty and you love YA novels, go ahead. I no longer care what others are reading so long as they are reading, even if it’s Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey. Why should I? These readers don’t care that I am forever reading Infinite Jest. I should not impose what books should be read by everyone when I want to be left alone myself.

My choice of books may be a bit high on the snob-meter but I am not like most snobs. In fact, I would not elevate NYRB Classics over YA novels for despite the scant number of YA novels that I’ve read, there are gems. I would recommend The Book Thief by Markus Zusak to everyone. It’s my favorite YA novel. John Green, perhaps. I’ve read Paper Towns and will read The Fault in Our Stars this month. And who, what else? Well, that’s all that I can recommend when it comes to YA fiction.

I can’t make grand statements on the world of YA fiction with my limited experience in it. But with my glimpse into its world, I am certain of why I prefer other novels. First, the themes and characters are for young adults. Otherwise, they would not be for young adults or they would be belong to sub-genres, no? Second, I am not entranced by the premises of YA-contemporaries, YA-dystopian, YA-insertsomethinghere. It’s just a matter of preference.

If The Book Thief were written for an older audience, it might have been paralyzing with boredom. Is it possible to write Paper Towns for an older audience? I couldn’t imagine how it could be done, and that’s fine because it’s great the way it is.

I am reading a trashy YA novel (I will not say what this is), but I’ve also read trashier novels that are not for young adults. What is my point? I should be painting a glimpse of the YA fiction’s world and I went on to yak about, what? There: there is nothing wrong with adults reading whatever so these adults should stop reacting like they’ve been all whacked in the head with a Les Miserables MMP or The Hunger Games omnibus.

I guess one of the concerns of the article’s author is that YA fiction has more readers than it should have. Should we be alarmed? I don’t think so. Statistics may show that YA fiction has lots of sales, but why is Alice Munro’s The Beggar Maid still at the top of The Millions’ list? Okay fine, The Millions is not for young adults, but you see, book stores are still selling all kinds of books, which means people are still buying all kinds of books.

If we are going to stick with the demographics of these categories, people should stop reading YA fiction by 22. But they don’t. Why should they? People have different reasons and purposes for reading the books that they read. I have learned to respect that. After respect comes peace, and more books to read.

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10 Comments

  1. I care that you are forever reading Infinite Jest! Hehe j/k.

    Hmm I’m undecided on the ‘adults reading YA issue.’ On the on hand, yes, why should others care what others are reading….just as long as they are reading, but there does seem to be a strong trend lately of adults reading books for kids, which, I won’t lie, surprises me.

    I guess the thought that crosses my mind when I see adults reading YA is, wouldn’t you enjoy a book that is more complex and thus better suited to your intellectual tastes and maturity? Sure, there’s nothing wrong with adults reading YA, but sooner or later won’t you want to read something more….for lack of a better word….substantial?

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    • Aww, you’re so caring! Haha!

      I gave up on hoping that more readers will read the books that I like to read. I got tired of being a snob, haha! I tried to rally for a cause but it became condescending. So I gave up and learned to respect what people want to read. It’s their money anyway.

      It can get lonely when I can’t talk to someone about the books that I like. So I’m glad for those people with whom I share reading preferences. ;)

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  2. Amen to that. I remember reading an article before, about how Children’s fiction is not to be considered as great literature because it doesn’t confront a range of human emotions. Those statements got some massive twitter attack I think. And then there’s one article more similar to what you just talked about. That adults should only read adult books. And that the only thing worse than catching an adult watching porn, is catching him reading Hunger Games..which I say is a tad too extreme. But their beef with YA or Children’s Lit is that they lack depth, or something like that. Hahaha. Blabbering….

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    • It wouldn’t stop. At least there’s something to talk about.

      I think I may have heard of that bashing on Children’s Lit. There’s a lot going on in children’s books. They are the most violent (a wolf eating humans, a witch cooking kids, etc.), and violence should display a good range of emotions.

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  3. I guess I am unsure as to what YA fiction is. Why is The Book Thief considered young adult. What are the prerequisites? Anyway I think I know what you are getting at. A good book is a good book I suppose despite how it is categorized.

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    • To put it bluntly, YA fiction is written with a young adult audience in mind. Characters and themes are for young adult readers, hence, the category name. Wikipedia states that young adult is from 13 to 21, but this is arbitrary.

      Regarding The Book Thief, I checked its back cover and it has the word “teens” all over it, so I guess this is a fair check on my part? :)

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  4. Monique says

    Nothing against YA from this end – I enjoy them every once in a while. With relatively lower expectations, of course, than I would have when reading literary and/or general fic. I find YA works perfect palate cleansers. ;)

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  5. I have nothing against YA novels (had a gripe against it before) or against the people who read them but I would probably lose my mind if I read two YA novels in succession.

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